I’ve spent considerable time and expense tracing the roots of the practice that I love back to its source — the legendary yoga scholar/practitioner Sri T Krishnamacharya, the “father of modern yoga” and teacher of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and TKV Desikachar.
The Roots of Vinyasa Practice
In the early 1900s, Krishnamacharya, considered the father of modern yoga and “teacher of teachers”, worked to revive the almost lost practice of Hatha Yoga, combining classical yoga postures derived from the ancient tradition with dynamic transitional movements, linking it all together with mindful breathing and awareness. He stressed the importance of the breath in yoga practice, stating, “Hatha Yoga is pranayama”. Krishnamacharya himself never left India, but he taught many of the teachers who popularized yoga in the West, including BKS Iyengar and Indra Devi, the “first lady of yoga”.
Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, his son TKV Desikachar worked tirelessly to make his father’s teachings relevant to people living a modern life. It’s largely through Desikachar and his longtime students that the essential core of Krishnamacharya’s teachings have been preserved — “Yoga must be adapted to an individuals needs, expectations and possibilities, rather than adapting an individuals needs, expectations and possibilities to Yoga.”
Connecting to the Source
Through time studying and assisting my primary teacher Mark Whitwell on numerous retreats and trainings, I’ve learned how to make these ancient practices relevant to anyone and everyone. My understanding of Krishnamacharya’s teaching has been deepened considerably by a month-long intensive study with 30-year Krishnamacharya student and master teacher Srivatsa Ramaswami, and meetings with other students of Desikachar like Larry Payne and Sonia Nelson.
My years of consistent daily practice throughout the ups and downs of life — including my own addiction, trauma and work-related stress and anxiety — have given me deep insight into the healing power of yoga.
I’ve also learned a great deal from spending time with master teachers like David Garrigues, Chuck Miller and Danny Paradise, among others. A perpetual student, I continue to study the various texts on yoga and tantra, and for a number of years have been studying and participating in shamanic practices from around the globe which has been a source of great healing and inspiration for me.
Yoga is the original shamanic practice of India, a sophisticated technology designed to heal, divine cosmic wisdom, and explore the nature of being and relating to the world around us.
Yoga for Body, Breath & Mind
Because it combines physical exercise with breathwork, mindfulness and meditation, Hatha Vinyasa Yoga is an “all-in-one practice”, effective in releasing unhealthy mental patterns associated with trauma and addiction, and conditioning a person’s body, mind and spirit to thrive within the challenging environment of the modern world. Yoga is recovery of one’s natural state of health and wellness.
The Original Functional Movement System
Those familiar with the current popularity of functional movement and mobility training methods (à la Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Ido Portal et al) will recognize many of the movement sequences in Hatha Vinyasa Yoga — everything from squats to pushups to dynamic lunges and handstands.
Every class or personalized sequence will work the whole body through a complete range of motion.
Restore Your Natural State
On a physical level, the vinyasa method is effective for:
- restoring or improving overall functional strength and mobility
- correcting postural alignment
- rehabilitating sports injuries
- conditioning and warm up for martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- slowing down the aging process, maintaining flexibility and agility well into old age
- improvement of respiratory and cardiovascular health
On a mental and emotional level, the linking of mind and body using the breath has been proven to reduce stress, balance hormonal levels, calm the nervous system and increase brain function among many other benefits. A breath-focused yoga practice can be an effective therapy for many of ailments common to modern life — stress, trauma, depression, anxiety and addiction.