Vinyasa krama yoga is an ancient practice of physical and spiritual development. It is a systemic method to study, practice, teach, and adapt yoga.
This vinyasa krama (movement and sequence methodology) approach to yoga asana practice is unique in all yoga.
Each asana is practiced with many elaborate vinyasas (variations and movements). Each variation is linked to the next by a succession of specific transitional movements synchronized with the breath.
The mind follows the slow, smooth, deliberate ujjayi yogic breathing, and the yoking of mind and body takes place with the breath acting as a harness.
Vinyasa means “to place in a special way,” and krama means “proceeding step by step according to a regular order“.
Vinyasa means “to place in a special way,” and krama means “proceeding step by step according to a regular order.”
The concept of vinyasa krama is from the teaching of Tiramulai Krishnamacharya.
He was born in 1888 and died in 1989. Krishnamacharya’s life can be divided into three stages.
He spent the first forty years traveling in India to meet with different sages, studying and acquiring deep spiritual knowledge and practices.
The Maharaja of Mysore then invited Krishamacharia to lead the Yoga School set up at the Palace, where he trained many students, including members of the royal family, in yoga. He led the school until the early 1950s.
Two of his students left the school during those years to develop their yoga style and work independently.
These students were B. K. S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, who later became even more successful and more well-known than their master in the West.
Iyengar yoga became very popular also thanks to stalwart practitioners like J. Krishnamurti and Yehudi Menuhin. The famous book Light on yoga eventually sealed Iyengar’s success in the western world.
Pattabhi Jois instead based his method on Krishnamacharya’s small book from the early 1930s, Yoga Maharanda, and a few other sequences that P. Jois learned from his guru during their relationship.
Pattabhi Jois named his style Ashtanga yoga after the eight-limbed classical yoga (although the two were not related), and it is nowadays one of the most used yoga styles worldwide.
Both Iyengar and Jois eventually developed a very physical style of yoga that was an aggressive form of what they learned. However, according to Srivatsa Ramaswami, who studied with Krishnamacharya for thirty years, they have omitted some relevant aspects of their guru method. The progression or sequencing of asanas, the complete synchronization was missing.
The third student of Krishnamacharya who came into prominence in the 1970s was Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar.
He excelled in adapting asanas to individual needs and the therapeutic application of Krishnamacharya’s yoga. His asana vinyasa was generally milder than others and perhaps the closest to the system that Krishnamacharya taught in the third part of his life.
The last student of Krishnamacharya to be mentioned is Indira Devi. She came to him from the U.S.A., and she was one of the few Westerners he has thought directly.
Indeed, Krischnamcharya never went abroad to spread his knowledge, and he continued to teach on a low-key, mostly one- on one basis.
Nevertheless, he became the father and source of all modern yoga.