Tag Archives: yoga courseware

Graduation May 2013

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There are very many moments in life which are worth relishing upon. One of them is graduation day. All though students graduate every month here but every graduation ceremony is unique in their own sense.  Swamiji graced the occasion himself. We were blessed by his kind blessings and prasad,

This graduation was special in many respects..

1. Respected Swamiji was present to grace the occasion

2. We had two students ( Katee and Satya) who were here for almost 3 months

3. One of the students (Kat Bickert ) completed her 6 months Advanced Course

4. Students got Yoga teachers training, therapy and Ayurveda certificates.

 

Yama and Niyama

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YAMA  & NIYAMA

Moral code of conduct

 

Patanjali says there are five Yams. moral code of conduct. These Yam direct about how a common man should behave in the society. However, Hathapradeepika has described ten Yam.  That means the points to be observed while being in society are given first and then the points about the personal behaviour. This also indicates that the Yoga has considered the society first and then the individual. The following are the five Yam:

 

Tatrahimsasatyasteyabrahmacharyaparigraha yamh || P Y S 2.30

 

  1. Ahimsa – A principle of non-violence
  2. Satya – A principle of Truthfulness
  3. Asteya – A principle of non stealing
  4. Brahmacharya – Continence / celibacy
  5. Aparigah – A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness

 

Ahimsa (Non Violence):

Ahimsa means not to kill anyone. Killing generates pain; hence ahimsa can mean not to cause pain to anyone. Yoga demands ahimsa in totality. That means, himsa does not mean only killing or hitting anyone. That is a limited meaning of the word or only physical aspect. To hurt someone mentally is also a himsa.

Yoga also states further that even thinking ill of someone is also a himsa, which is a mental himsa. Hence, ahimsa covers all aspects such as physical, oral, mental. This indicates the greatness of the depth of the science of yoga. Patanjali Yoga aphorism states the results of following such ahimsa:

Ahimsa pratishthayam tatsannidhou vairatyagah || P Y S 2-35

One, who observes ahimsa, succeeds in eliminating feelings of enmity. If ahimsa is followed for a long time, not only the sadhak, but even his surroundings are affected and enmity is eliminated in the minds of all who come in contact with him. Thus, ahimsa is not only elimination of physical, mental, oral hurt, but also wiping out the feelings of enmity.

Thus, for Yoga studies such high degree ahimsa is prescribed. However, not all Yoga Sadhak aspire for Samadhi. Their expectations from the yoga studies are limited. From their point of view such great ahimsa may not be able to be observed continuously. Hence, in day-to-day life it should be considered how far such ahimsa is to be observed.

Those who desire to progress further in Yoga should shun all himsa. Initially, one may not be able to observe total ahimsa. However, one should constantly keep the definition of ahimsa in mind and try to follow it. Mind and the body can be trained to avoid such activity. Such training is the first step towards following ahimsa entirely.

 

Satya (Truthfulness):

Satya should also be considered in depth. It does not only cover speaking the truth. Proper understanding of the talk and the mind is the truth. Here, proper means exactly what is seen, understood or heard, the same thing should be followed by our tendency to talk and also by the mind. When we try to explain something to others, the conversation if it generates doubts or if it is not understood correctly by others, or if it is of no use to others, then that is not truth, even if it is true. Also, God has created our tongue for the benefit of all and not for destruction. So the truth, which results in the destruction of someone or something, is also not the truth.

Mahabharata has analysed and classified the truth as under:

“Silence is greater than the speech, true speech is greater than the silence, speech as per one’s dharma is greater than it and the true speech according to dharma and which is pleasurable and useful to others is the greatest.”

Patanjali Rishi has stated the results of the truth as under:

Satyapratishthayam kriyaphalashrayatvam || P Y S 2-36

With constant following of the truth and the commensurate behaviour, one gets vacha siddhi. That means without performing any religious rites, the results of the karma accrue to him and to others due to his speech and blessings.

 

Asteya (Honesty):

Steya means theft. Asteya means not stealing anything. However, asteya has a comprehensive meaning and is not limited to not stealing something from the other and keeping it in possession. It means not keeping anything with self, which does not belong to the self. If one finds something lying on the street and picks it up thinking that no one has seen him and since that was lying on the street, some one is bound to pick it up, then why not me, and then that is also a theft. Picking up or possessing something, which does not have any owner, is also a theft. When one sees some money lying on the deserted street, there is a desire to pick it up.  The other mind says that why not pick it up, if not me, someone else is bound to pick it up. The battle of the two minds starts increasing the heartbeats. If the bad conscience wins, then the intelligence propels the body to pick it up. But yet the good conscience keeps on advising against it. The money is picked up, but only after losing the calmness of the mind and after increasing the heart beats. There is an increasing pressure on the mind even after the money is picked up. The mind is disturbed; there is no concentration in work. When this becomes unbearable, one decides to donate the money somewhere, which will reduce the disturbance to some extent. Again while depositing the money in a temple or at some religious place, the heartbeats increase imagining the questions that may be raised by someone else. When ultimately it is deposited and one is free, the mind becomes calm and quiet and the pressure disappears. This process can be viewed in start of theft. The pressure generated in the process does have bad effects on the body and the internal glands. If asteya is observed, the body and the mind do not have to undergo such strain. This is the meaning and conclusion of asteya.

This is an effect of the actual physical process of theft. But even if a thought of the theft peeps into the mind, it can affect the mental and thereby the physical health. If the electronic impulses generated through the brain are measured with the help of a machine, it is observed that there are wide changes while being in such a state.

 

4. Brahamchrya:   /Continence                                                                                              

 

Always maintaining chastity in thoughts, speech and acts(Brahamcharya).

 

5. Aparigah – A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness

Never taking undue advantage, in poverty or richness, from others because it carries obligation and thereby loss of independence.

 

 

NIYAM

There are five Niyam. Patanjali Yoga has described. Hathapradeepika has described ten Niyam. Niyam guide regarding the individual behavior. That means the points to be observed while being in society are given first and then the points about the personal behaviour. The rules to be followed by a sadhak in case of self are given by way of Niyam. The following are the five Niyam:

Shouchasantoshtapah swadhyaeshwarpranidhanani niyamh || P Y S 2.32

  1. 1.      Shoucha (Purity)
  2. 2.      Santosh (Contentment)
  3. 3.      Tapa (Endurance)
  4. 4.      Swadhyaya (Self Study)
  5. 5.      Ishwar pranidhan (Worship with complete faith)

Shoucha (Purity):

First of all an individual’s body has to be detoxified by various yogic cleansing procedures. These are known as ‘shatkarma’. As the name suggests ‘shat’ means six and ‘karma’ means procedures meant to cleanse one’s body of the toxins, which may have accumulated due to wrong type of diet and lifestyle. The procedures are listed below.

  1. Dhauti cleaning the stomach.
  2. Basti cleaning the colon.
  3. Neti cleaning the nasal passage.
  4. Nauli cleaning the abdominal organs.
  5. Kapalabati cleaning the respiratory organs.
  6. Trataka clearing the mind through gazing.

Shoucha means the purity. Like ahimsa, this purity is also physical, oral and mental. Physical purity is again divided into two parts, outer and inner. Yoga has considered all types of purity and given directions as to how to achieve it. However, Patanjali Yoga does not give detailed description of this. But it is stated in detail in Hatha yoga.

While considering outer purity, Hathayoga describes many processes right from brushing the teeth. The specific powder (churna) that should be used for cleaning the teeth is also mentioned under Shuddhikriya in Hatha yoga.

For external purity, yoga has given the message that one should not talk too much. Unnecessary use of the tongue is to be avoided and following the yam should purify the tongue.

Yoga has accepted the inseparable relation of the body and the mind. Hence, each and every yogic process affects the body as well as the mind.

For purifying the mind, there is a process known as Trataka

The following aphorism states the result of the shoucha:

Shouchatswangjugupsa parairsansargh | P Y S 2.40

After purity is achieved by this process, sadhak loses the feeling of the importance of the body and does not wish to interact with the other bodies.

When the sadhak starts purifying the body, he feels that the body is full of impurities and he feels disgusted about it. When such feelings arise, he tries to avoid even the touch of the other and engages himself in his own mental bliss. Patanjali has stated in another aphorism that:

Satvashuddhisoumansyekagredriyajayatmadarshan yogyatwani cha | P Y S 2.41 From the purification process, satvashuddhi, mental happiness, calm mind, victory over the organs, and the plan to view the self (atma) are achieved.

 

Santosh (Contentment):

Contentment is also an important virtue. When we observe the never-ending efforts of all creatures in their day-to-day lives, and think of the purpose behind it, we realise that all these efforts are to gain mental contentment and peace. We try to derive the contentment from outside matters. However, none is aware of the fact that the contentment does not depend upon these outside matters. It is a state of mind. It is not a reaction of the mind on any incident.

Hence, it can be controlled irrespective of the incidents. Yoga with the use of this word intends the hidden meaning that one should learn to be happy in what one gets. This attitude will reduce pain and suffering in life. However, there should be mental preparation for this. When this tendency to feel contented is adopted by the mind, the perpetual happiness is not far behind. In fact the root of happiness lies in this tendency of the mind. And the root cause of suffering is in Trishna (thirst). This trishna has been defined in one Sanskrit shloka as under:

Asha nam manushyanamkachitdashwaryashrunkhala |

Yaya baddha pradhavanti muktastishathatipanguvat ||

Hope is such a chain that when tied with it, the creature starts running and when released from it, the creature stands peacefully.

Running behind the hope will lead to only pain and suffering.

Patanjali has given the following aphorism while describing the results of the contentment:

Santoshdanuttamsukhlabhah | P Y S 2.42

One who constantly learns to be contented, all his thirst gets weakened and the satva is heightened. He gets the maximum happiness and feels that pleasures from heavens or even the place of the God Indra is also nothing as compared to his own bliss.

 

 

Tapa (Endurance):

Tapa means to bear some trouble with a good intention. Even if there is some physical or mental trouble, one should not discontinue his actions, but should continue them. This is known as Tapa. While studying Yoga or practising some yogic process, there may be some physical trouble. One should bear it happily and should pursue his studies. This is tapa.

The seventeenth chapter of BhagwaGita has described Tapa. There are three types of tapa: Satwik, Rajas and Tamas. Tapa done with faith and without hoping for the fruits is Satwik. That which is done for the expectation of status, felicitation etc is known as rajas tapa. And tapa arising out of folly, with some trouble to the body and with the intention of creating trouble for the others is tamas tapa. Patanjali has stated the results of the tapa in the following aphorism:

Kayendriyasiddhirashuddhikshayatapas | P Y S 2.43

Ashuddhi is adharma. It is a tamas guna. It is impurity, which veils the siddhis such as Anima. The daily practice and study of tapa , after its completion, removes all such impurities. When ashuddhi or impurities are removed, then siddhis such as Anima, Mahima, Lachima etc are obtained.

 

Swadhyaya (Self Study):

Shrawan and manan (listening and contemplation), Japa (recitation- is of two types, oral and mental) are types of Swadhyaya.

Again oral japa is of two types, audible – with loud chanting which can be heard by the others and inaudible – whispers which cannot be heard by others.

Mental japa is also of two types – without dhyana and with dhyana. In all these japas, japa without dhyana is considered as the best.

In daily life of commoners, swadhyaya can be said to mean revision of what is taught. The results of swadhyaya are as under:

Swadhyayadishtadevtasamprayogah | P Y S 2.44

While doing japa of a particular mantra, when an anushtan is completed,

the goddess for whom the japa is made becomes pleased with the sadhak and appears before him. (known as darshan)

 

Ishwar pranidhan (Worship with complete faith):

It means while believing in the existence of God and having faith in his greatness, completely devoting oneself to Him without any expectations in return.

There is some divine strength at the root of this universe, which is beyond our imagination. To identify the divine strength and to surrender one completely to it is ishwarpranidhan. There are nine types of devotions for God:

Shrawanam Kirtanam Vishnoh smaranat padsevanam |

Archanam Vandanam dasyam sakhyam atmanivedanam ||

At times, even after our persistent efforts, we are unable to succeed. At such a time, if we have compassion of the God, the problem gets solved.

Samadhisiddhirishwarpranidhanat | P Y S 2.45

With Ishwarpranidhan, the siddhi of Samadhi can be obtained.

For the advanced studies in Yoga, sacrifice of sensory perceptions into the sense organs and sacrifice of sense organs into the mind (antakaran) is expected. With swadhyay of yoga this can be achieved.

In Yoga text, descriptions are made thoroughly so as to lead sadhak towards Samadhi. While viewing from a common man’s angle and after starting the study of yoga, it may not be possible to follow the Yam and Niyam to the fullest possible extent. However, for us common people, the aim of the Yoga studies is not Samadhi but to live happily and with contentment in our family life.

Hence, we should try to follow Yam and Niyam accordingly. If we try to follow the principle of ahimsa as meant in the texts, it may not be possible for us, to stay in this world. Hence, Yam and Niyam should be followed remembering the customs of this world and to the extent possible for us. But, to follow them, we should at least have an idea of the ideal state of Yam and Niyam.

It is a general experience that as the study of Yoga proceeds, the tendency to follow the Yam and Niyam increases. In any journey, one must be aware of the destination and should travel in that direction. Then one is bound to reach the destination one day. The period of the journey may be different for everyone, but one who starts travelling will definitely reach there one day or the other.

Hence, to follow Yam and Niyam at least on worldly basis will suffice and be complementary to the study of Yoga.

For further information and details visit – www.paramyoga.org

Yoga Course-ware : Yoga Asanas

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In order to understand yoga we need to understand the asana’s first. therefore we have included a list of yoga asanas.

These Asanas are the various postures/positions a person should be in while practicing meditation and yoga.

Asana’s name in Sanskrit English
Anantasana Sleeping Vishnu Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana downward face dog pose
Adho Mukha Vrksasana Arm Balance
Ananda Balasana Happy Baby Pose
Anantasana Lord Vishnu’s Couch
Ardha Chandrasana Half moon pose
Ardha Masyendrasana Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Ardha Sirsasana Half Headstand Yoga posture
Baddha Konasana Cobbler’s Pose
Bakasana Crow Pose
Balasana Child’s Pose
Bharadvajasana Seated Side Twist
Bhujangasana Cobra Pose
Cat-Cow Cat-Cow
Chaturanga Dandasana Four-Limbed Staff Yoga posture
Dandasana Staff Pose
Dhanurasana Bow Pose
Eka Pada Galavasana Flying Crow Pose
Garbaha Pindasana Womb Embryo pose
Garudasana Eagle Pose
Gaumukhasana Cow Pose
Halasana Plow Pose
Janu Sirsanana Head to Knee Pose
Jathara Parivartanasana Revolved Abdominal Yoga posture
Karnapidasana pressure on the ears
Kukkutasana Rooster pose
Kurmasana Tortoise pose
Lunge Lunge
Matsyasana Fish Pose
Navasana Boat Pose
Padmasana Lotus Pose
Paripurna Navasana Complete Boat Yoga posture
Parsva Bakasana Side Crow Pose
Paschimottanasana Seated Forward Bend
Pincha Mayurasana Forearm Stand
Plank Plank
Salamba Sarvangasana Shoulderstand
Salamba Sirsasana Headstand Pose
Savasana Corpse Pose
Setu Bandasana Bridge Yoga posture
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Bridge Pose
Shalabasana Locust Pose
Shavasana Corpse Yoga posture
Sirsasana head stand
Sukhasana Easy Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana Goddess Pose
Supta Masyendrasana Supine Spinal Twist
Supta Padangusthasana Supine Big Toe Yoga posture
Tadasana Mountain Yoga posture
Tolasana Scale Pose
Trikonasana Three angle pose
Upavistha Konasana Seated Wide Legged Stradle
Urdhva Dhanurasana Upward Bow posture
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Upward Facing Dog Yoga posture
Ustrasana Camel Pose
Utkatasana Powerful Yoga posture
Uttanasana Standing Forward Bend
Utthita Parsvakonasana Extended Lateral Angle Yoga posture
Utthita Trikonasana Extended Triangle Yoga posture
Vajrasana Thunder Bolt Yoga posture
Vasisthasana Side Plank Pose
Viparita Karani Supported Inverted Yoga posture
Virabhadrasana Warrior posture
Virasana Hero Pose
Vrksasana Tree Yoga posture
Vschikasana Scorpion Pose

Compiled by mahendra (www.paramyoga.org)

yoga course-ware 1.3: Modern Yoga

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MODERN YOGA

modern yoga techniques

The history of modern Yoga is widely thought to begin with the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. It was at that congress that the young Swami Vivekananda swami (svamin) means “master” made a big and lasting impression on the American public. At the behest of his teacher, the saintly Ramakrishna, he had found his way to the States where he didn’t know a soul. Thanks to some well-wishers who recognized the inner greatness of this adept of Jnana-Yoga (the Yoga of discernment), he was invited to the Parliament and ended up being its most popular diplomat. In the following years, he traveled widely attracting many students to Yoga and Vedanta. His various books on Yoga are still useful and enjoyable to read.

Before Swami Vivekananda a few other Yoga masters had crossed the ocean to visit Europe, but their influence had remained local and ephemeral. Vivekananda’s immense success opened a sluice gate for other adepts from India, and the stream of Eastern gurus has not ceased.

After Swami Vivekananda, the most popular teacher in the early years of the Western Yoga movement was Paramahansa Yogananda, who arrived in Boston in 1920. Five years later, he established the Self-Realizaton Fellowship, which still has its headquarters in Los Angeles. Although he left his body (as yogins call it) in 1952 at the age of fifty-nine, he continues to have a worldwide following. His Autobiography of a Yogi makes for fascinating reading, but be prepared to suspend any materialistic bias you may have! As with some other yogis and Christian or Muslim saints, after his death Yogananda’s body showed no signs of decay for a full twenty days.

Of more limited appeal was Swami Rama Tirtha, a former mathematics teacher who preferred spiritual life to academia and who came to the United States in 1902 and founded a retreat center on Mount Shasta in California. He stayed for only two years and drowned in the Ganges (Ganga) River in 1906 at the young age of thirty-three. Some of his inspirational talks were gathered into the five volumes of In Woods of God-Realization, which are still worth dipping into.

In 1919, Yogendra Mastamani arrived in Long Island and for nearly three years demonstrated to astounded Americans the power and elegance of Hatha Yoga. Before returning to India, he founded the American branch of Kaivalyadhama, an Indian organization created by the late Swami Kuvalayananda, which has contributed greatly to the scientific study of Yoga.

A very popular figure for several decades after the 1920s was Ramacharaka, whose books can still be found in used bookstores. What few readers know, however, is that this Ramacharaka was apparently not an actual person. The name was the pseudonym of two people William Walker Atkinson, who had left his law practice in Chicago to practice Yoga, and his teacher Baba Bharata.

Paul Brunton, a former journalist and editor, burst on the scene of Yoga in 1934 with his book A Search in Secret India, which introduced the great sage Ramana Maharshi to Western seekers. Many more works flowed from his pen over the following eighteen years, until the publication of The Spiritual Crisis of Man. Then, in the 1980s, his notebooks were published posthumously in sixteen volumes a treasure-trove for serious Yoga students.

Since the early 1930s until his death in 1986, Jiddu Krishnamurti delighted or perplexed thousands of philosophically minded Westerners with his eloquent talks. He had been groomed by the Theosophical Society as the coming world leader but had rejected this mission, which surely is too big and burdensome for any one person, however great. He demonstrated the wisdom of Jnana-Yoga (the Yoga of discernment), and drew large crowds of listeners and readers. Among his close circle of friends were the likes of Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Charles Chaplin, and Greta Garbo. Bernard Shaw described Krishnamurti as the most beautiful human being he ever saw.

Yoga, in the form of Hatha-Yoga, entered mainstream America when the Russian-born yogini Indra Devi, who has been called the “First Lady of Yoga,” opened her Yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. She taught stars like Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, and Robert Ryan, and trained hundreds of teachers. Now in her nineties and living in Buenos Aires, she is still an influential voice for Yoga.

In the 1950s, one of the most prominent Yoga teacher was Selvarajan Yesudian whose book Sport and Yoga has been translated into fourteen or so languages, with more than 500,000 copies sold. Today, as we mentioned before, many athletes have adopted yogic exercises into their training program because . . . it works. Among them are the Chicago Bulls. Just picture these champion basket ball players stretching out on extra-long Yoga mats under the watchful eye of Yoga teacher Paula Kout! In the early 1950s, Shri Yogendra of the Yoga Institute of Santa Cruz in India, visited the United States. He pioneered medical research on Yoga as early as 1918, and his son Jayadev Yogendra is continuing his valuable work, which demonstrates the efficacy of Yoga as a therapeutic tool.

In 1961, Richard Hittleman brought Hatha-Yoga to American television, and his book The Twenty-Eight-Day Yoga Plan sold millions of copies. In the mid-1960s, the Western Yoga movement received a big boost through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, largely because of his brief association with the Beatles. He popularized yogic contemplation in the form of Transcendental Meditation (TM), which still has tens of thousands of practitioners around the world. TM practitioners also introduced meditation and Yoga into the corporate world. It, moreover, stimulated medical research on Yoga at various American universities.

In 1965, the then sixty-nine-year-old Shrila Prabhupada arrived in New York with a suitcase full of books and $8.00 in his pockets. Six years later he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and by the time of his death in 1977, he had created a worldwide spiritual movement based on Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of devotion).

Also in the 1960s and 1970s, many swamis trained by the Himalayan master Swami Sivananda, a former physician who became a doctor of the soul, opened their schools in Europe and the two Americas. Most of them are still active today, and among them are Swami Vishnudevananda (author of the widely read Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga), Swami Satchitananda (well-known to Woodstock participants), Swami Sivananda Radha (a woman-swami who pioneered the link between Yoga spirituality and psychology), Swami Satyananda (about whom we will say more shortly), and Swami Chidananda (a saintly figure who directed the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India). The last-mentioned master’s best known American student is the gentle Lilias Folan, made famous by her PBS television series Lilias, Yoga & You, broadcast between 1970 and 1979.

In 1969, Yogi Bhajan caused an uproar among the traditional Sikh community (an offshoot of Hinduism) when he broke with tradition and began to teach Kundalini Yoga to his Western students. Today his Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization better known as 3HO has more than 200 centers around the world.

A more controversial but wildly popular guru in the 1970 and 1980s was Bhagavan Rajneesh (now known as Osho), whose followers constantly made the headlines for their sexual orgies and other excesses. Rajneesh, a former philosophy professor, drew his teachings from authentic Yoga sources, mixed with his own personal experiences. His numerous books line the shelves of many second-hand bookstores. Rajneesh allowed his students to act out their repressed fantasies, notably of the sexual variety, in the hope that this would free them up for the deeper processes of Yoga. Many of them, however, got trapped in a mystically tinged hedonism, which proves the common-sense rule that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Even though many of his disciples felt bitterly disappointed by him and the sad events surrounding his organization in the years immediately preceding his death in 1990, just as many still regard him as a genuine Yoga master. His life illustrates that Yoga adepts come in all shapes and sizes and that, to coin a phrase, one person’s guru is another person’s uru. (The Sanskrit word uru denotes “empty space.”) Another maxim that applies here is caveat emptor, “buyer beware.”

Other renowned modern Yoga adepts of Indian origin are Sri Aurobindo (the father of Integral Yoga), Ramana Maharshi (an unparalleled master of Jnana-Yoga), Papa Ramdas (who lived and breathed Mantra-Yoga, the Yoga of transformative sound), Swami Nityananda (a miracle-working master of Siddha-Yoga), and his disciple Swami Muktananda (a powerful yogi who put Siddha-Yoga, which is a Tantric Yoga, on the map for Western seekers). All these teachers are no longer among us.

The great exponent in modern times of Hatha-Yoga was Sri Krishnamacharya, who died in 1989 at the ripe old age of 101. He practiced and taught the Viniyoga system of Hatha-Yoga until his last days. His son T. K. V. Desikachar continues his saintly father’s teachings and taught Yoga, among others, to the famous Jiddu Krishnamurti. Another well-known student of Sri Krishnamacharya and a master in his own right is Desikachar’s uncle B. K. S. Iyengar, who has taught tens of thousands of students, including the world-famous violinist Jehudi Menuhin.

Mention must also be made of Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi, both of whom studied with Krishnamacharya in their early years and have since then inspired thousands of Westerners.

Of living Yoga masters from India, I can mention Sri Chinmoy and Swami Satyananda (a Tantra master who established the well-known Bihar School of Yoga, has authored numerous books, and has disciples around the world). There are of course many other great Yoga adepts, both well known and more hidden, who represent Yoga in one form or another, but I leave it up to you to discover them.

Until modern times, the overwhelming majority of Yoga practitioners have been men, yogins. But there have also always been great female adepts, yoginis. Happily, in recent years, a few woman saints representing Bhakti-Yoga (Yoga of devotion) have come to the West to bring their gospel of love to open-hearted seekers. Yoga embraces so many diverse approaches that anyone can find a home in it.

An exceptional woman teacher from India who fits none of the yogic stereotypes is Meera Ma (“Mother Meera”). She doesn’t teach in words but communicates in silence through her simple presence. Of all places, she has made her home in the middle of a quaint German village in the Black Forest, and every year is attracting thousands of people from all over the world.

Since Yoga is not restricted to Hinduism, we may also mention here the Dalai Lama, champion of nonviolence and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He is unquestionably one of the truly great yogis of modern Tibet, who, above all, demonstrates that the principles of Yoga can fruitfully be brought not only into a busy daily life but also into the arena of politics. Today Tibetan Buddhism (which is a form of Tantra-Yoga) is extremely popular among Westerners, and there are many lamas (spiritual teacher) who are willing to share with sincere seekers the secrets of their hitherto well-guarded tradition.