‘I fell at his feet, sobbing like a child’

I feel like I’m on a bit of a broken record streak here when I say Tim Miller’s got a “must read” at his blog this week. But if you care about stories / memories of Guruji, it is:

The last time I saw Guruji was in May of 2008 when he came for the grand opening of the K. Pattabhi JoisYoga Shala in Isla Morada, Florida on Memorial Day weekend. I missed the first day of class due to family commitments, then flew the red-eye to Miami so I could participate in the final two days. After the two-hour drive from Miami, I arrived with 20 minutes to spare. There were 200 students lined up mat to mat.

Yes, I’m just giving you a teeny, tiny piece to encourage you to read it all. (You know I mean it when I link twice. And you know you want to understand the quote in the headline.)

Posted by Steve

The science of Ashtanga in the Kali Yuga

It’s been a while — nearly a year — but Guy Donahaye is back with a new blog post: Vijnana – The Science of Ashtanga Yoga in the Kali Yuga. It touches on Krishnamacharya, Guruji and Patanjali. A few excerpts to get you to check it out:

Krishnamacharya was a highly religious man, a member of the vaisnavara faith. He believed that in this age of Kali Yuga, the way to realization was only accessible through bhakti – religious devotion. He did not believe that people today were suited to the stages of non-attachment required for the higher levels of Patanjali Yoga.

This perspective, though maybe based on an accurate perception of early 20th century Indian society, was also heavily colored by his Vaishnavara faith. Krishnamacharya was many things but his primary interest was his devotion to god.


Contrary to what Krishnamcharya believed, I think Guruji had great faith in the yoga system as a means to emancipation – at least that is what he taught. He drew on all available scriptural sources including those of Advaita Vedanta and believed that all the scriptures which speak about yoga constitute an integral whole.

Guruji was also religious, but the lineage of Shankaracharya to which he belongs is not quite so passionate in its religious devotion. While Krishnamacharya was an expert in quite a few different fields, Guruji was more exclusively concentrated on the yoga darshana and advaita vedanta.


I believe it was one of Krishnamacharya’s great achievements to re-integrate two paths of yoga which had apparently split off from each other –  Patanjali Yoga and Hatha Yoga. But beyond this, the father of modern yoga leaves us with a meagre philosophical or spiritual legacy. Neither he nor his disciples – Guruji and BKS Iyengar put yoga on the map beyond its expression as asana and pranayama.

As a result there is a lot of unclarity about the path of yoga beyond these physical practices. Indeed, there is almost a fanaticism or obsession with the minutiae of these physical practices which is perhaps what causes blindness to anything beyond them. Today yoga has spread to millions of people around the world but where is the clear enunciation of its deeper meaning as a spiritual practice?

Must we just practice with faith and devotion or is there a guiding light which can help us find the way?

Guy’s thoughts on why asana came to dominate Guruji’s teachings are, in a word, really interesting. OK, in two words.

Check it all out.

Posted by Steve

An issue for Ashtanga practitioners: Namarupa remembers Jois and Iyengar

A new Namarupa magazine is out, and it looks like one that all Ashtanga Yoga practitioners will want to get.

It’s all about the lives and legacies of Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar. Click here to get to the page and how to download/order it. Here’s what is inside:

  • FRONT Sri B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
    ©Mike Hill.
  • Legends & Legacies Translation of conversation by Sunaad Rhaguram and photographs by Mike Hill
  • 3 Gurus 48 Questions Matching interviews with Sri T.K.V. Desikachar, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Interviews by R. Alexander Medin
  • Sketches Sri B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois by Keshav
  • Traditional Yoga An informal talk by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
  • Next Generation Interviews by R. Alexander Medin: Prashant Iyengar & R. Sharath Jois
  • Hoysala Brahmin Sri K. Pattabhi Jois by Eddie Stern
  • Sri B.K.S. Iyengar Photographs by Martin Brading
  • Surya Namaskar Sri K. Pattabhi Jois interviewed by Sunaad Raghuram assisted by John Campbell
  • Aditya Hridayam from the Srimad Valmiki Ramayana
  • The Yoga of Krishnamacarya Eddie Stern
  • Masters in Focus Sri B.K.S. Iyengar by Kofi Busia
  • BACK Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, R. Sharath Jois and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois ©Mike Hill.

Some of that sounds familiar (the three questions piece), so my guess is it is a mix of previously published material , but all bound up into one convenient package.

One convenient package that sure looks worth having.

Posted by Steve

When BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois reunited after 40 years

As we wait more news of BKS Iyengar’s health, I have been thinking about the moment when, after 40 years, he and Pattabhi Jois were reunited around Guruji’s (meaning here Jois) 90th birthday. 

There are a few different pieces that captured the moment. One was Namarupa — link to that issue (which you can buy) is right here.

Another is Australian Yoga Life, which has the article online right here. A little excerpt:

Within minutes two of the most celebrated hatha yoga masters of our time, both affectionately called ‘Guruji’ by their students, having not seen each other for more than 40 years, were laughing and hugging as they swapped stories of the past and of their own beloved guru, Shri T Krishnamacharya.

“For anybody that was there on that day it was incredible,” says Alex Medin, who orchestrated the reunion at Pattabhi Jois’s home in Mysore, South India. “There was this vibrant feeling in the air of tremendous healing.”

“All of us that were present just felt so happy. Guruji (Pattabhi Jois) was so happy, Iyengar was so happy. They were just radiant. They were hugging like brothers, like two brothers who had been away from each other…and suddenly they come together and express their love for each other. It’s a beautiful thing.”

David Swenson is quoted a few times in that piece, along with some other Ashtanga teachers.

There probably are a few different versions of why the two yoga teachers hadn’t seen each other in so long; the Australian Yoga Life piece puts the rivalry between Ashtanga and Iyengar more on the students than on the two teachers — though it seems to suggest that in some ways that rivalry is natural, given the differences in the practices that stem from one source — Krishnamacharya. (I have heard “Light on Yoga” jokingly called “Dark on Yoga.”)

The main “first hand” story I’ve heard is that both pulled out all their finest jewelry and gold and made sure they had all their “bling” on — a detail that I think is supposed to remind us of their humanity, that there probably was a combination of pride and trepidation heading into that meeting.

With Iyengar as sick as he seems to be, remembering his humanity seems to me to be appropriate at this time — while also remembering all he’s done that is larger than life.

Posted by Steve

Archive video of Pattabhi Jois in Sydney

This just went up this weekend:

From the about, posted by Chris Walker:

Film archive from Sri K Pattabhi Jois first visit to Sydney Australia sponsored by Eileen Hall, Chris Walker Yoga Moves Australia. Along with teaching classes, special interviews and travel all around NSW we hosted a public evening at the Paddington Town hall. A sold out event for over 1,000 Yoga enthusiasts to meet a master and his family. Sharath shares a stunning demonstration.

Not sure of the date… late 1990s, maybe? Early 2000s?

Posted by Steve