"Parampara" literally means "unbroken succession" and refers to the ancient tradition of transmitting knowledge directly from teacher to student. It is only through guru parampara that authentic knowledge can be gained as yoga is all about experience. The whole process includes working close with a teacher for a prolonged period of time so that a special "guru-shishya" (techer-student) relationship develops: the student surrenders to the teacher and the teacher gets to know the student better than he/she know themselves.
The Ashtanga system relies strongly on this method of teaching. Otherwise, advancement would be very difficult if at all posiible. The lineage of Ashtanga yoga starts with Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
(1888 - 1988)
YOGA is the GREATEST
gift of INDIA
to the whole WORLD
The history of Ashtanga yoga as well as most contemporary schools of yoga begins with the work if Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya who is fairly called "a revolutionary", "a pioneer" and "father" of today yoga. The revolution that this man has created is due mainly to the scientific knowledge that he applies to asana and the practice as a whole. Krishnamacharya is the first to explain the effect of asanas on health, the importance of sequencing, vinyasa, etc. Seeing the change in human thinking, Krishnamacharya subtly weaves psychology into his method so that modern man can understand and practice yoga correctly. His method lies on the ancient text "Yoga rahasya" which he studied together with the Yoga sutras of Patanjali with his guru - Ramamohan Bramachari. After finishing his study, Krishnamacharya was sent to find the ancient text, to reconstruct it and make yoga accessible for the modern man.
The legend goes that Krishnamacharya received the whole text of "Yoga rahasya" in a dream from Sri Natamuni - an old sage who had lived in the 9th century. It is only in 1965 that Krishnamacharya puts the text in writing. One of the central principles of Yoga Rahasya were the application of yoga for women as well as the adaptation of the techniques for different people in the different stages of life. These became guiding principles in the teachings of Krishnamacharya himself. Another legend goes for "yoga Korunta". Supposedly, Krishnamacharya discovered it in a Calcutta library and reconstructed it with the help of his student Pattabhi Jois. It is said that the Yoga Korunta described the 6 series of Ashtanga yoga almost as we know them today and was accompanied by a commentary of the Yoga sutras by Vamana Maharishi, which implied that the method and the Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali were the same thing. Teaching the method described in the "Yoga Korunta" was passed on to Pattabji Jois. Krishnamacharya later writes the "Yoga Makaranda" where he additionally explaines the Ashtanga method in its entirety.
Whether or not these legends are true doesn't really matter as undoubtly Krishnamacharya has strongly influenced the way yoga is taught throghout the world. Most of today's schools and styles of yoga have grown from his teachings.
Krishnamacharya has taught most of thepresent day gurus amongst which Indra Devi, Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar - all of which became popular and influential figures in the yoga world. It's difficult to imagine what yoga would be like without the colossal work of this great masterand his devoted students.
Pattabhi Jois began studying yoga when he was 12 years old after he saw a demonstration of yoga by Krishnamacharya. During his first years of study, he walked the 35 kms from the village where he was born to Mysore where Krishnamacharya was teaching at the time. He studied with his teacher for 25 years until Krishnamacharya gave him the task to reconstruct the Yoga Korunta and teach the method of Ashtanga yoga. That was how Pattabhi Jois started teaching in 1937 in Mysore, India.
Sri Pattabhi Jois, whom all of his students called Guruji, is the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore. It is there that he dedicates himself to the study of the healing power of yoga. From 1976 to 1978 he was also Honorary Professor at the Indian State Medical College.
1% theory, 99% practice
In 1964 Andre Van Lisbet from Belgium became the first european to come and study with Pattabhi Jois. On his return to Europe, Andre talks aboutthe master in an article published in "yoga" magazine. In 1972 the first americans come to Mysore to seek the teachings of Guruji. Later, they sponsor his first trip to America and that is how Pattabhi Jois and his eldest son Manju go out of India in 1975. The practice spreads first in California where manju chooses to stay and lives until now. Later, Ashtanga goes to Hawai where one of Guruji's first students - Nancy Gilgoff lives.
Guruji has two sons and a daughter. His younger son dies at an early age, but Manju continues teaching the method throughout the world. His daughter Sarasvati and her son Sharath maintain the school in Mysore where thousands of people study each year.
Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
(1915 - 2009)
Manju Jois is the oldest son of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, recognized worldwide as the foremost authority on Ashtanga Yoga. Manju was born on November 16th, 1944. At the young age of 7, Manju was awakened early each day by his father to begin lessons that would forever change the course of his life and the lives of those who would study with him in the years to come. He began his teaching career at the age of 15 with his father and has taught ever since.
Manju considers it a great honor to be the son of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. “He is my father and my teacher. I am grateful for both my mother and my father.” Manju is devoted to his wife Nancy and their young daughter Sathu, named after her paternal Grandmother, who was born in 2002.
Manju has taught the true Mysore Ashtanga method for over 47 years. Spanning 22 countries and 21 states in the US, Manju’s world Ashtanga teaching tour is ever expanding. He offers Ashtanga weekend workshops, teacher trainings and intensive week-long classes. He incorporates pranayama and vedic chantings in his classes, which go very well with Ashtanga yoga practice. Manju’s intention is to teach in the way of the ancient tradition and bring the many benefits of Ashtanga yoga to his students.
He hopes to bring “better concentration and understanding” of Astanga Yoga to his students in a world full of distractions. Manju’s dedication to his life of teaching and practicing yoga has brought the benefits of the ancient tradition of Ashtanga Yoga Manju to many students throughout the world, as he guides each to “Unite with Yourself.”
There are many teachers which have contributed and continue working for maintaining the authenticity of Ashtanga yoga. Pattabhi Jois himself has taught most of those, who today are called "senior teachers".
The first american who went to seek the master, that lately everyone would call simply "Guruji", was Norman Allen, followed by Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams. The latter was the first non-Indian to receive the full system of Ashtanga yoga directly from Pattabhi Jois. David Williams in his turn has taught many of the today's masters in Ashtanga amongst which David Swenson, Chuck Miller, Maty Ezrati. In Europe, the first student of Pattabhi Jois was Derek Ireland and his wife Kristina Karitinou from Greece. It is Derek Ireland that actually introduces the so-called led classes in Ashtanga yoga which was and still is taught in the traditional one-to-one way. John Scott is a student of Derek Ireland, as well as Kristina Karitinou. Others from this first generation of teachers are Tim Miller, Lino Miele, Edie Stern and Richard Freeman.
From the younger teachers there are many that have become popular through their work. David Robson contributes with his "Learn to Float" series of seminar and video-classes. Kino Macgregor has thousands of followers of her YouTube channel na OmStars web yoga platform. David Guarrigues travels the world teaching his Asana kitchen series of seminars and video channel. But of course, there are many others dedicated to the practice and authentic teaching that stay away from the vanity of the present day yoga craze.
Irina Bachvarova is the founder and director of Bulgarian Ashtanga Yoga Academy as well as Ashtanga Yoga Ruse and Ashtanga Yoga Sofia. Irina took up serious practice after years of competitive sports and dance in 2003 when she met David Swenson while she was living in New York. In 2013, she completed David's Teacher Training and since 2015, she studied regularly with Manju Jois and David Robson.
Irina teaches Ashtanga yoga for over 10 years in Bulgaria and abroad. She offers seminars and workshops on various aspects of the practice as well as intensive in-depth studies of the Ashtanga method. The years in spotts and dance give her a broader perspective on human movement and its power to heal the soul and mind, but it is through personal experience that she believes we learn most. Irina dedicates herself to practice and making Ashtanga yoga available to a wide range of practitioners. She writes books and articles and is always working on some new project or cooking in her Ayurvedic kitchen.