Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is the father of modern yoga. He believed that yoga instructors should “teach what is appropriate for an individual,” meaning that the practice should be adapted to the needs of the student to attain the most benefit. Refusing to standardize his practice and teaching methods, he taught each student differently. He believed that every student was unique and should be “taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time.” For him, this meant that the path of yoga would mean different things for different people and that each person should be taught in a way that he or she could understand the material clearly. For example, while leading a meditation, he instructed students to close their eyes and “think of God. If not God, the sun. If not the sun, your parents.” It is important to meet students where they are today. This approach allows the ancient practice of yoga to become relatable and accessible to every student through the ages.
Some of Krishnamacharya’s students include well-known master teachers such as BKS Iyengar (founder of Iyengar Yoga), K.Pattabhi Jois (founder of Ashtanga Yoga) and AG Mohan (founder of Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda). Although Krishnamacharya never left India, he has reached many yogis through these teachers who have helped to spread his teaching philosophy and style throughout the world to a broad range of people.
Krishnamacharya’s work continues to influence yoga students even today. As yoga instructors, we introduce beginner students to yoga, teach intermediate students new poses, assist advance students in developing their skill, or offer modifications or adjustments based on an individual student’s body, we meet every student where they are today and continue Krishnamacharya’s work in teaching what is appropriate for each individual student.