Yoga Well Institute
The Yoga Well Institute is an organization dedicated to the practice of yoga as taught by Śri Krishnamacharya and Mr. Desikachar in all of its forms. We especially emphasize the importance of maintaining a daily, personal practice that is guided by an experienced mentor. All of our teachers have been studying and applying this approach to yoga for many years and have their own daily practices that are guided by their mentor
We hold that Yoga is first and foremost experiential and consequently strive to make all of our individual sessions, educational programs, trainings and activities practically useful. The main goal is to provide information and experiences which can be easily understood and assimilated by anyone. We then can apply what we learn, to our daily life, to our relationships and to our practice. This is truly yoga for health, healing, and beyond…
The Yoga of T. Krishnamacharya & TKV Desikachar
Yoga is an ancient discipline offering a broad range of tools for supporting health, promoting healing, and facilitating personal transformation. It is a holistic healing discipline that addresses the entire person and all their various aspects (body, mind, emotions, behaviors, breath & spirit) in an interconnected way; and it is an immensely practical methodology of vibrant health, mental stability and joyful living. By continuously adapting its many tools, Yoga is able to meet the unique and changing needs of each individual student as they change and develop. From beginner to master, Yoga truly has something for everyone.
While many people today associate Yoga with the practice of physical postures, in fact, the postures are only one of yoga’s many tools. Yoga’s tools include:
- moving and positioning of the body,
- conscious breathing,
- meditation & attention practices,
- sound, including singing, chanting & listening,
- guided self-inquiry,
- mentor relationships,
- study of texts, and more.
When used in a manner appropriate to the practitioner, all of the above can help improve the quality of mind and body, and thus improve the quality of life, relationships and health.
T Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) was one of the most influential masters of yoga in modern times. A yogi, healer, āyurvedic doctor, Vedic scholar, researcher and expert in Indian schools of thought, Krishnamacharya lived to be over 100 years old. Krishnamacharya worked tirelessly to revive yoga in the early 20th century and was the teacher of some of the most influential yogis in the west including BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and his son, TKV Desikachar. The fact that yoga has become an inherent part of the everyday lives of millions of people across the world is due in no small measure to his pioneering efforts.
Krishnamacharya’s knowledge of Yoga, the primary Indian philosophical schools, Āyurveda and Sanskrit, was immense. Yet, even as he preserved ancient wisdom and revived lost teachings, Krishnamacharya was a revolutionary innovator. By developing and adapting yoga practices, he was able to make health, mental clarity and spiritual growth a little more accessible for modern people from all walks of life.
Click here to read more about Sri Krishnamacharya.
Son and student of T Krishnamacharya, Mr. TKV Desikachar spent nearly thirty years of his adult life studying (and living) with his father. This long, live-in internship, combined with 45 years of teaching experience, made Mr. Desikachar one of the most respected Yoga teachers of modern times. Author of numerous books, including The Heart of Yoga, and Health, Healing and Beyond, Mr. Desikachar worked tirelessly to promote the healing power of yoga and was a recognized expert in the therapeutic application of yoga. In 1976, to honor his teacher and father, Mr. Desikachar established the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandriam (KYM) and under his guidance it developed into an important teaching and therapy center that taught students and patients from all over the world and India.
Frequently traveling to teach around the world, TKV Desikachar came to be recognized as an authority on Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Vedic Chanting. And in 2006, to mark KYM’s 30th anniversary, a special commemorative book “TKV Desikachar – A Tribute” was released to honor and acknowledge Mr. Desikachar’s outstanding contribution to the practice of yoga around the world. Click HERE to download the book “TKV Desikachar – A Tribute” as a PDF or click here to read more about Mr. Desikachar.
Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram
In 1976, Mr. Desikachar founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM),a non-profit Yoga Therapy Center in Chennai, India, where he taught until his retirement in 2010. The KYM (www.kym.org) is renowned the world over as one of the premier institutions for therapeutic Yoga, and is particularly noted for the wide of range of mental and physical ailments it treats with Yoga. In fact, many doctors, psychologists and other healing professionals regularly refer patients to the KYM for therapeutic yoga.
Most of the classes at KYM are individual, one-to-one classes in which the yoga is modified to match the personal capacity of the individual coming for help. This emphasis on the importance of individualizing yoga to meet the needs of the individual is a cornerstone of Śri Krishnamacharya’s and Mr. Desikachar’s teaching.
Although the main focus is therapeutic, the KYM’s student base also includes people seeking to improve their general health and athletic performance, as well as those seeking to deepen their personal, spiritual practice. In addition to its educational, therapeutic and community outreach work, the KYM also supports a research department, which focuses on using established scientific protocols to evaluate the impact of Yoga on various ailments. Much of the department’s research is being funded by local government agencies.
Viniyoga & Yoga Well, What’s the Connection?
In the early 1980’s the western world was already familiar with “Iyengar Yoga” and “Ashtanga Yoga”, but those who had studied with Mr. Desikachar simply called what they did “yoga”. To the inevitable question, “what kind of yoga do you teach?” they had no easy answer. Viniyoga is the name Mr. Desikachar suggested his students use to denote this tradition of yoga. So, in this sense, viniyoga is an authentic approach to yoga reflecting the comprehensive teachings of legendary yoga master T. Krishnamacharya, as transmitted through his son TKV Desikachar. Yoga Well Institute and YATNA (Yoga as Therapy North America) are part of this tradition.
As a Sanskrit word, viniyoga means “special adaptation” or “appropriate application”. In the third chapter of the Yogasūtra (III:6), Patañjali uses this word, saying one must practice literally “according to the ground one stands on”. The idea of viniyoga is that all the tools of yoga be adapted to the individual’s capabilities and needs and then developed gradually over time at a pace appropriate for each student. Or, as Professor Krishnamacharya famously said, yoga must be adapted to the individual, not the other way around. This individualized approach to practicing and teaching yoga is essential if the student is to realize the full potential of yoga practice for healing, self-discovery and personal transformation.
In the 1980s viniyoga was used in the name of several organizations related to TKV Desikachar and his teaching. In 1983, a French-language magazine called Viniyoga was created. In the mid 1980s, several groups were founded around the world, including Viniyoga America, Viniyoga Europe and Viniyoga Australia. Viniyoga America was founded on August 15, 1986, at Colgate University in Hamilton NY by students of Mr. Desikachar including Dr. Dolphi Wertenbaker, Sonia Nelson and Gary Kraftsow. Dr. Wertenbaker was also editor of Viniyoga America’s publication, Viniyoga Letter.
Today the spirit of the term viniyoga is truly a challenge to each of us. Our approach at the Yoga Well Institute and YATNA is grounded in the idea of viniyoga. We leave you with two reflections by long-time students of Mr. Desikachar: