Yoga and the Breath of Life – Quotes by T. Krishnamacharya

Most of the yoga styles taught in the West today can be traced back to one teacher, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Among his well-known students are Pattabhi Jois the founder of Asthanga yoga, BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi, and his son Desikachar.

Most of todays leading Western yoga teachers have studied under one or more of Krishnamacharya’s students, and he is recognized as on of the strongest influences on establishing and developing of what yoga has become today.

Krishnamacharya was  born in 1888 in a remote village in India. Throughout his 101 years on earth, he became a master of study in Vedic philosophy, yoga asana, pranayama, logic, Sanskrit, Ayurvedic medicine and music. He held degrees in the six Vedic darsanas, the Indian philosophies. Krishnamacharya spent seven years in Tibet at the foot of Mount Kailash with Yogeshwara Ramamohan Brahmachari, memorizing the Yoga Korunta, the “Asana Limb” of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga’s eight aspects. Vinyasa was an essential aspect to the way that Krishnamacharya taught asana, the poses in themselves were not as essential, rather the movements through yoga poses interconnected with breath.

Krishnamacharya was also known as a healer. He was known to be able to voluntarily stop his visible heart beat/ pulse for over two minutes, probably by drastically reducing venous return to the heart.

After a lifetime devoted to studying, learning, and teaching yoga, Krishnamacharya passed away in 1989 at the age of 101. While he never traveled out of Asia, his influence has spread across the globe through his students. His writings and poetry still inspire yogis today, most memorably in his poem of thirty two verses, the Yoganjalisaram.  The Yoga Sutras of Patanajali spoken In Sanskrit by Kausthub Desikachar are available on CD and can be purchased at the Krishnamachuraya Yoga Mandiram

Enjoy some of Krishnamacharya’s most inspirational quotes: 

 “Inhale, and God approaches you.  Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.  Exhale, and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” 

“Why do we need money beyond a point? If we are free of ill health, enmity, and debt, is that not enough? Too much money only leads to less peace.” 

“Where is the delusion when truth is known? Where is the disease when the mind is clear? Where is death when the Breath is controlled? Therefore surrender to Yoga.” 

“If you have learnt something really well, then the way you express it will not be the same way you learned it.”

“No one is wise by birth, for wisdom results from one own’s efforts”

“Rid your body of its impurities,

let your speech be true and sweet,

feel friendship for the world, and

with humility seek wealth and knowledge.”

“Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other”

“In the practice of Yoga one can emphasize the body, the mind or the self and hence the effort can never be fruitless.”

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.”

“Subjects are of two categories, one category can be learned merely through words, by listening and understanding—these are theoretical subjects, like the rules and analysis of grammar. The other category needs to be practiced, like music, cooking, martial arts, and yoga as well. Nowadays, the practice of yoga stops with just asanas. Very few even attempt dharana and dhyana [deeper meditation] with seriousness. There is a need to search once more and reestablish the practice and value of yoga in modern times.” 

“When the truth is known ignorance cannot be, when the mind is pure there is no disease, when the breath is mastered there is no death, therefore, surrender to Yoga.”

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