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Pattabhi Jois – The Mastermind Behind Ashtanga Yoga

Pattabhi Jois

Pattabhi Jois was a yoga teacher who developed the popular vinyasa style of yoga referred to as Ashtanga Yoga. Pattabhi Jois later went on to develop The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (now known as the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute) in Mysore, India. Follow this article to find out a brief history about this modern yoga pioneer…


The Roots of Pattabhi Jois
Born on 26th July 1915 in South India, Jois had a fairly affluent upbringing. Despite his family never practising yoga, Jois always felt a strong attraction to the discipline from an early age. He described his desire to learn yoga as being akin to an epiphany; his soul was magnetised to the art of meditation.


In his early teenage years, Jois attended one of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s lectures in the nearest city. At the time, Krishnamacharya  was considered one of the greatest yoga teachers that ever lived. Through this guidance, Jois immediately felt that yoga was his calling in life. As such, he would spend the next two years studying under Krishnamacharya. It was during these two years that Jois learnt Vinyasa Yoga. Later in his life he would develop his own form of Vinyasa – known as Ashtanga yoga.


When Jois was 18, he married, had three children and relocated to Lakshmipuram. He earnt a living by working as a yoga instruction at a Sanskrit College from 1937 to 1973. Eventually, he earnt the title of Professor of yoga. In 1976, Jois became the Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Government College of Indian Medicine. It was at this institute where he began teaching Vinyasa yoga to his students. At the end of his college years, Jois redefined his outlook in life; yearning to solely devote himself to his passion for yoga. In 1973, he made the decision to follow the desires of his soul and leave his job.


The Path of Creation Of Ashtanga Yoga
The next few years of Jois’s life were spent developing Ashtanga Yoga, and establishing the Ashtanga Research System.  Ashtanga yoga is series of gymnastic exercises combined with focused pranayama; a focal point of this form of yoga is posture.


Ashtanga yoga gained a large amount of interest when the Belgian, Andre Van Lysebeth, started studying Jois’s yoga program. He was so impressed with the discipline that he wrote a book on his findings and experiences whilst practicing. This gained Jois a large amount of European and celebrity followers, most notably Madonnna and Gwyneth Paltrow.


Jois spent the latter years of his life promoting Ashtanga yoga, and delivering a numbers of talks on the subject. He later had a book published, named Yoga Mālā, which generated a lot of interest.
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