As I’ve said in several places, I am not teaching anything new. I am just translating ancient wisdom in a way that is accessible and relevant for a modern world. I first went to a workshop with my root teacher, Chase Bossart, in 2009. Chase studied with his teacher, Sri TKV Deśikachar for over 20 years. Mr. Deśikachar was the son of Kṛṣṇamacārya and studied with him for over 30 years.
Kṛṣṇamacārya was a widely respected yogi. Born in India in the 1888, he taught several of the teachers that eventually made a huge impact on yoga as we know it in America, including BKS Iyengar, Pathabi Jois (who founded Ashtanga Yoga), and Indra Devi. He was a yoga prodigy born into a Brahmin family with distinguished history of yoga sages. He was given the best classical education available in India, receiving the equivalent of ivy league PhDs in Law, Medicine and Divinity. He then studied seven years in a cave in Tibet on Mount Kailash at the feet of the celebrated yogi, Sri Ramamohan. According to Kṛṣṇamacārya’s biography, the studies in that cave included “all of the philosophy and mental science of Yoga; its use in diagnosing and treating the ill; and the practice and perfection of āsana and prāṇāyāma” as well as Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s, and how to “chant them with an exactness of pronunciation, tone, and inflection that echoed as nearly as possible their first utterance thousands of years earlier.”
At the end of a long traditional apprenticeship like this, the teacher is allowed to ask the student for one boon. Ramamohan asked that Krishnamacharya get married, have children, and become a yoga teacher. Essentially, Ramamohan asked Kṛṣṇamacārya to make yoga accessible to regular people living practical lives where they had to pay the rent, get the kids to school on time, and have food on the table daily. Given his hallowed education he could have been the Dean of the most respected University in India, or the leader of his family’s spiritual tradition. But that would have kept yoga in the hallowed world of the Brahmin, unavailable to most working people. Kṛṣṇamacārya became a yoga teacher in the real world with real-life responsibilities. He also transformed, inspired and empowered the lives of his students, and they spread yoga throughout the world.
It is this interpretation of Yoga that I endeavor to bring to the world today. I remain a personal student of Chase Bossart, and continue to study and deepen my own experience of what happens when you take this tradition seriously.
Viniyoga is a term from Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra: tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ
Generally it means that the practices given should be adapted to the particular student. When several of Mr. TKV Deśikachar’s students asked “what should we call your lineage of yoga?” he answered “viniyoga.”