Sri Pattabi Jois: Beacon of Astanaga Vinyasa

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“If we practice the science of yoga, which is useful to the entire human community and which yields
happiness both here and hereafter- If we practice it without fail, we will then attain physical, mental, and
spiritual happiness, and our minds will flood towards the Self.” ~Sr. K. Pattabhi Jois

Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois was a remarkable soul who transformed the lives of countless people through
his teachings. He is said to have popularized Astanga Yoga all over the world. A school of Yoga
characterized by fast-paced movements that involve pronounced but controlled breathing while holding
varying postures. Unlike some other forms of yoga, Astanga yoga is said to produce profuse sweating,
which Jois believed was necessary for the cleansing of the body.

He is the founder of the Astanga Yoga Research Institute in which he trained thousands of students for
over sixty years till his passing.

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois was born on a full moon day of July in 1915.In a small village called Kowshika
situated in Hassan district of Karnataka. He had humble beginnings as the son of a priest and astrologer
as a result of which he was exposed to Sanskrit scriptures and rituals as part of his upbringing. He was
one of nine children in his household.

Yoga came into his life in an unexpected manner when he happened to attend a lecture demonstration
and was strangely drawn to the practice. Jois likes to quote a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, in which
Krishna proclaims that one comes to yoga in his life only by having practiced it in a previous life and is
pulled toward it against one’s will, as toward a magnet.

Jois was absolutely fascinated by the asanas as he watched the incredibly flexible yogi perform it in the
workshop .He was merely a 12 year old boy and decided to go ask the Great yogi Krishnamachari to
train him personally as he wanted to understand the philosophy behind yoga. He would learn under him
without his family’s knowledge. Thus began his 25 year long training under the great yogi.

Right after his threading ceremony at 14, he left home with only 2 rupees in his and travelled to Mysore
to study at the Maharaja Sanskrit College. He left without informing anyone at home because he was
aware that his family would strongly oppose the path he had chosen as back then, it was believed that
yoga would lead a person away from worldly responsibilities. He lived a very difficult life in Mysore as he
studied and lived in a friend’s dorm and begged in Brahmin households for food.

During his years at the Maharaja College, he was reunited with his guru Krishnamachari who happened
to be in Mysore at the time. Both of them won the patronage of the Mysore’s Maharaja Sri Krishna
Rajendra Wodeyar who helped them build a yoga shala in the palace grounds and establish a yoga
department at the Sanskrit university. He also simultaneously set up a Yoga Research Institute at his
home in Mysore in tiny two room house.

Jois’ Journey to the west began when he attended an International Yoga conference in South America
in 1974. Which paved the way for many more journeys to the western countries as the foreigners took to
Astanga yoga very easily due to its intense nature and detoxifying properties. The result of over 25 yrs of
work shows today when we see the popularity of yoga in the West.

Pattabhi Jois compiled his teachings in a book called the Yoga Mala. He had a undying faith is the power
of practice and was famous for saying “Do your practice and all is coming”

– By Madhura Srinivas

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The principles laid out in Patanjali’s yoga sutras dating back to 500 B.C. are still very relevant today, even in our modern information world. Yoga has evolved a lot from the days of Patanjali; it has taken different forms to meet the varying needs of practitioners all along its journey. Yoga continues to accept all changes, like the ocean accepts the river, absorbs, assimilates and grows. (A distinctive feature of sanaatan dharma of India)

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