If you are involved in any way in modern Yoga than your guru is Krishnamacharya | Mark Whitwell

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s life represents a bridge between ancient past and modern present. Born in 1888 and dying only recently in 1989, he was the vehicle by which the physical wisdom practices of Yoga entered modern India and then the world.

After spending seven and a half years at Mount Kailash with his guru Ramamohan Brahmachari, he returned home and began to teach. He was teacher to the most prominent figures of 20th century Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, and his son TKV Desikachar.

Krishnamacharya taught Yoga as the union of opposites: as each person’s perfect participation in the…


Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989). “If you practice any of the modern forms of Yoga then Krishnamacharya is your Guru and it would be wise to pay attention to the accuracy of practice that he brought forth from the tantras.” Mark Whitwell

TKV Desikachar on T. Krishnamacharya

In 1995, when Desikachar’s book The Heart of Yoga was published, we did a series of interviews in New Zealand in which Desikachar spoke at length about his father’s life and approach to teaching.

Desikachar described his father, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), as an extraordinary person who lived for one hundred useful years; as a man whose thirst for yoga knowledge eventually took him to the high plateaus of the Himalayas where he lived with his teacher Ramamohan Brahmacari for seven and a half years; and as a man who gave his life to translating an…


Intimacy is the watchword of Yoga; not detachment, not meditation, not philosophy. The point is: just intimacy | Mark Whitwell

On what are the Yogas of Participation, the difference between temple religion and Yoga, how to practice without seeking, and the historic roots and dangers of motivated celibacy.

“Eternity is in love with the productions of Time.” — William Blake

Real Yoga is each person’s searchless and direct embrace of Eternity. It is your direct participation in God, arising now as the whole-body and all tangible and intangible conditions.

Yoga is easy and anybody can do it. It is primarily about participation in the union of all natural opposites: left/right, above/below, front/back, inhale/exhale, male/female, strength/receptivity.

By participating in the union…


The Secular must serve the Sacred | Mark Whitwell

We may not have asked for this gig, but it is what we have been given: the deepening climate crisis, a global pandemic, and the epidemics of fear, racism, anxiety and mental illness that divide our communities. Everything is tinder-dry: politics, people, and our forest systems all seem set to explode at the slightest spark.

I used to live and teach Yoga in California. Last night, I spoke with friends there who are sheltering from the wildfires presently tearing through the hills. They live in neighborhoods still recovering from the devastating Camp Fire in 2018. …


On the rooftop at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandaram many years ago. Sitting in front of an image of Patanjali who summarized everything about Yoga in the Vedas that had gone before | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

The term parampara is a beautiful word that refers to the passing of wisdom-knowledge from one teacher to the next through history. The word implies a continuous, unbroken transmission of learning; an uninterrupted sequence or thread. The gifts of indigenous wisdom cultures move along these precious lines.

In Yoga, parampara refers to the long chain of guru-shisya relationships that have carried these physical wisdom practices from ancient past into modern times.

It is thanks not only to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar, but also to the entire history of teachers that went before them, that we are able to…


Clearly, we have drifted a long way from the indigenous, non-hierarchical wisdom cultures of Yoga in which the Guru function arose.

The word today is associated with the very worst confluence of male power structure, hierarchy, sexual abuse, and religious/spiritual cultism. Most people run a mile if they hear the word ‘Guru,’ and rightly so.

The disempowering structure of guruism across both the East and the West is clear for all to see: bands of loyal followers, self-proclaimed God-realization, political influence, special clothing, and extreme wealth accumulation.

Always, there is a trail of victims — those who have suffered sexual…


Let this breath be enough. Let this moment be enough. Let this body be enough. There is no need for a teaching. Life is looking after you perfectly. Rest in the harmony that is your Life | Mark Whitwell

Before beginning your asana practice it is good to rest for a short while, putting aside the demands of regular activity and turning your attention over to the intimacies of body and breath. You may like to chant, listen to music, or place some relaxed attention on significant objects. This will establish the mood or bhavana of the practice.

Yoga begins from savasana, corpse pose, or any passive posture, and moves as the natural movement of life energy or prana of the whole body, usually with easy, simple movements at first.

The body moves easily in the energy of the…


“Hidden hierarchy must go before Yoga can begin” | Mark Whitwell | Pictured: TKV Desikachar

In the traditional context of Yoga, students would meet with their teacher on a one-to-one basis and then go away and practice for themselves at home. The purpose of the meeting was for the creation of a personal, home Yoga practice that was perfectly suited to the needs of the student.

The teacher gives the student a spiritual sadhana: a daily discipline that they can actually do.

What’s more, the relationship that is formed in these meetings is a Yoga itself. The student is brought into the recognition that they are the power, intelligence, and harmony of Life itself. The…


Start where you are. Move and breath in a way that is right for you: for your body type, age, health and culture; for your energy levels; find time in your busy life for this intimacy.

Mahamudra is known in the Yoga traditions as ‘the great sacred gesture.’ It is a highly revered asana that is placed at the conclusion of one’s vinyasa. Unlike a seated forward bend, the spine remains straight.

The posture earns the title ‘great sacred gesture’ because it is the literal enactment of the head/mind given over to its source: the Hridaya Heart; the first cell of life that appeared when you appeared; the portal through which Nurturing Source Reality flows and manifests as the whole body.

Mahamudra practiced correctly involves the activation of all three bandhas. Among asana, only two others…


Outside the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood, California. “Yoga is necessary to realize the non-dual state” | Mark Whitwell

The most influential Vedanta Acharya in Krishnamacharya’s family lineage was Ramanuja of the 10th century: a reality realizer, like Christ or the Buddha, who declared that all seen conditions are a shesha of God (a manifestation of God’s abundance; an overflow into substance) and therefore, devotion to all ordinary conditions — body, breath, and relationship of all kinds — is bhakti: God-realizing activity.

Just as the whole-body is the bloom of the hridaya heart, so the material world is the bloom of Source Reality.

It is from Ramanuja that we get the great resolving statement of vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism): that…

Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell has worked as a Yoga teacher around the world for the last 45 years, and is the author of four books on Yoga. https://www.heartofyoga.com/blog/

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