A question I often get asked is; What style of yoga do you teach?
And if you have been around in the yoga community you are probably well aware that there are so many different styles not to mention add on yoga styles like Acroyoga for example.
I personally went on a journey to find a ‘style’ or an approach/lineage that I felt connected with and felt true for me, and the one I found was in the tradition of TKV Deskichar who was the son of T. Krishnamacharya.
T. Krishnamacharya is the man known as “the father of modern yoga. Most of the yoga we see in the west today can be traced back to him. This is also partly because he was the teacher of two other well know modern yogi’s; BKS Iyengar ( who developed Iyengar Yoga) and Pattabi Joise (who developed Ashtanga Yoga). What’s interesting is these two gentlemen were taught yoga when they were in their mid-teens to 20s and so what Krishnamacharya taught them was a strong vigorous practice. Krishnamacharya was known for adapting yoga to the student’s needs, so he taught them yoga for young, flexible bodies. Also, during this time in India, yoga had actually almost faded away and so Krishnamacharya was performing more stronger practices to bring yoga back into popularity. This is why these two styles are quite strong and physical.
In Krishnamacharya’s later period of his teaching career, he still continued to teach the vinyasa style of doing asanas, but put more emphasis on using yoga therapeutically and was known more as a healer than as a yoga teacher. He no longer taught large classes of students and preferred to work with students one on one. This is where he taught A.G. Mohan, Srivatsa Ramaswami, and his own son, Desikachar.
Desikachar followed teaching in this manner, focusing on the adaptability and therapeutic aspects of the practice to meet each student’s needs. It was sometimes referred to as vini yoga – vini meaning the appropriate application. (prefixes vi and ni plus yoga) is an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application.
In this tradition the golden phrase is “it depends”, it depends on the individual and what their unique set of characteristics and circumstances are. So while there is a ‘classical’ way to do a posture, it doesn’t mean you have to achieve that pose to receive those benefits from that posture, there are modifications, variations for each of the asanas to adapt to the individual. And this is why I resonated with this lineage. I also believe we are all unique and so what may work for one person might not work for another, listening to your body, and practicing specific practices that support you wherever you are on your yogic path.
What’s interesting is Desikachar asked his students not to create a style from this, as this isn’t meant to be a ‘style’ but across all styles of yoga as the foundation for the practice, for yoga. This is why I don’t say I teach viniyoga in honor of this.
If you would like to see this graphically I can recommend this poster which beautifully illustrates the many styles and lineages of yoga: https://theyogaposter.com
We have it hanging in the yoga room at Billabong Retreat. Let me know if you have any questions on the styles of yoga and which one do you resonate with?