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August 10, 2016

One of Yoga’s Great Teachers Dies at 78.

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Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Venkata Desikachar, better known as T.K.V. Desikachar, son of the “Father of Modern Yoga,” Sri Krishnamacharya, died Monday, August 8th, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

The third of six children, he was born in 1938 in Mysore, when his father still worked there for the local King Wadiyar IV, before Indian Independence.

He was preceded in death the three other great students of Krishnamacharya likewise acknowledged as the most prominent teachers of our era, B.K.S. Iyengar (2014), K.P. Jois (2009) and Indra Devi (2002).

Though schooled in the asanas as a boy, he did not wholly buy into his father’s teaching. Krishnamacharya once chased him up a tree when he refused his daily practice.

Desikachar pursued mechanical engineering in school and gave short shrift to yoga, planning a career in his chosen feild, but he turned to his father and the practice in 1961, becoming one of his most passionate advocates and long-studied apprentices.

The world-renowned Krishnamurti became Desikachar’s student in 1965, and he traveled out of the country to instruct yoga for the first time that year—to Switzerland and England—under Krishnamurti’s care. His first teaching in America brought him to Colgate University in 1976.

That same year, he founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram with two other followers of his father, A. G. Mohan and Srivatsa Ramaswami. K.Y.M. offered sophisticated therapeutic approaches to the practice.

Desikachar is greatly responsible for re-framing our understanding of the Yoga Sutras as a book that applies to everyday life, not just to the path of devoted, celibate yogis. He also made yoga therapy a respected wellness modality.

His eight books include the broad-based Heart of Yoga (1999), used in teacher training programs around the world, a biography of his father (Health, Healing and Beyond, 2005), and translations of the Yoga Sutras and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Though he was a committed secularist, he was deeply interested in the interface between Western conceptions of religion and yoga, and he both lectured and published on the topic.

His engineering background gave him unique insights into the mechanics of the body and his skill in caring for sickness through yoga was world-renowned. The famous teachers Leslie Kaminoff, Mark Whitwell, Chase Bossart, Gary Kraftsow, Larry Payne, and Kate Holcombe all studied deeply with him.

He suffered from dementia in his last years.

The immediate cause of his death is not yet known.

Among family members who have made their mark in the practice, he is survived by his son, Kausthub, who teaches worldwide and has published a biography of his father, and by his younger brother, Sri T.K. Sribhashyam, who teaches yoga in Europe and is the author of The Emergence of Yoga, a book on yoga’s history, philosophy and practice.

 

Author: Eric Shaw

Image: Sir T.K.V. Desikachar’s Facebook

Editor: Emily Bartran

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Eric Shaw

Eric Shaw, MA.SE, MA.RS, MA.AS, has studied yoga and meditation for 30 years and taught both since 2001. He maintains a lively international teaching schedule and is the creator of both Prasana Yoga—a form that reveals alignment in movement—and Yoga Education through Imagery—lecture programing that teaches yoga’s traditions through archival imagery and new scholarship. He is an E-RYT 500 with two degrees in Art, and Masters Degrees in Education, Religious Studies and Asian Studies. His essays appear in Yoga Journal, Common Ground, Mantra Yoga + Health, and other publications. To find out more, please see: prasanayoga.com